The first line of Marco Rubio’s biography on his 2010 campaign website claimed that the Florida Republican was “highly regarded for his principled, energetic and idea-driven leadership.” But a newly disclosed settlement with the Federal Election Commission (FEC) over illegal contributions accepted by his campaign committee has reignited long-standing questions about how “principled’ the freshman Senator’s ethics really are.
On March 19, Rubio and the FEC agreed to a negotiated settlement in which his Senate campaign committee agreed to pay an $8,000 fine to settle charges that it accepted over $210,000 in “prohibited, excessive and other impermissible contributions.” This news was not made public until a POLITICO story this weekend. Perhaps most disturbing is that even after an internal campaign audit, the Marco Rubio for Senate committee failed to address more than $83,000 in improper or misreported donations.
Rubio, who has been frequently mentioned as a possible vice presidential pick for Mitt Romney, has been in several previous ethical controversies, including:
- Use of a Florida GOP credit card for personal purposes, many of which were reportedly only reimbursed by Rubio after media inquiries. Rubio’s 2010 campaign dismissed these allegations, saying they were reimbursed at the time.
- Double-billing of Florida taxpayers for plane travel also billed to the state Republican Party. Rubio’s 2010 campaign claimed these happened without Rubio’s knowledge and were reimbursed.
- Failure to disclose a $135,000 home equity loan from a bank controlled by political supporters. Rubio, in 2008, said his failure to disclose the loan was “an oversight” and that there was “nothing unusual about the loan or the application.”
Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington included Rubio among its “Crooked Candidates” of 2010. And Romney’s own press secretary Andrea Saul, then a staffer for a rival candidate, blasted Rubio in 2010 as “another typical politician who uses his public office for personal gain and only comes clean once caught.”
Rubio’s office has not yet responded to a ThinkProgress request for comment, nor, according to POLITICO, to their request.